Farm Incomes Rise
Defra has published its first estimates of farm incomes for the 2017/18 tax year. They show an increase in all sectors except specialist pig production. One major factor was an increase of 13% in the Basic Payment, due to the fall in sterling following the Referendum, to an average of £31,700. It should be noted that Farm Business Income covers all activity, including diversification, agri-environment grants and the Basic Payment. Dairy farms had the biggest increase as incomes doubled, with cereals and general cropping also showing significant rises. Even lowland grazing saw an increase of 36% but that only reflects a recovery on farming income from loss to breakeven. Income from diversification also showed a big rise.
African Swine Fever
African Swine Fever is gradually crossing Europe in our direction. There have been outbreaks in Belgium where authorities plan a major cull of wild boar in an attempt to stop the spread. So far 114 wild boar have been diagnosed with the disease. In the UK, it is a Notifiable Disease with compulsory slaughter and compensation. Defra is very concerned that it might come across the North Sea or Channel to our shores and is working on contingency measures. One expert described the prospect of an epidemic as making ‘foot and mouth disease look like a picnic’.
Militant Vegans Target Farm Shop
A farm shop near Exeter, where customers have been encouraged to adopt their Christmas turkey, has been targeted by militant vegans. The enterprising farmer has suggested that clients identify a turkey, which is tagged, then help to feed and look after it until it is slaughtered for their Christmas feast. ‘Murder! Go Vegan’ was daubed in blue paint on the glass door to the shop and the farmer and his staff subjected to abusive telephone calls and death threats.
Welsh Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn cause controversy when she instructed Natural Resources Wales to ban the rearing and shooting of gamebirds on land owned by the Welsh Government, despite a recommendation from a scientific review commissioned by Natural Resources Wales that it should continue. A new poll of Welsh people has shown conclusively that the public think she was wrong with 61% in favour of shooting continuing and 39% against.